GAO Analyzes The Surge

The surge is working ... not so well.

Beyond the declines in overall violence in Iraq, several crucial measures the Bush administration uses to demonstrate economic, political and security progress are either incorrect or far more mixed than the administration has acknowledged, according to a report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office.

Can you believe that the Bush administration might not be entirely accurate in its assessment of the surge?

Administration figures, according to the report, broadly overstate gains in some categories, including the readiness of the Iraqi Army, electricity production and how much money Iraq is spending on its reconstruction.

[more ...]

And the security gains themselves rest in large part not on broad-scale advances in political and social reconciliation and a functioning Iraqi government, but on a few specific advances that remain fragile, the report says. The relatively calm period rests mostly on the American troop increase, a shaky cease-fire declared by militias loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and an American-led program to pay former insurgents to help keep the peace, the report says.

"The New Way Forward in Iraq" isn't moving forward quite as swiftly as the president anticipated. Are you shocked?

[T]he president set out that plan as something that would take 12 to 18 months and would include achievements like enacting a law to regulate Iraq’s oil industry and handing all of Iraq’s provinces over to Iraqi control, the report says. As of this week, only 9 of 18 provinces had been handed over, according to the report, and the crucial oil law remains to be enacted. ...

Still more important, the report asserts, the administration’s plan is not a strategy at all, but more a series of operational prescriptions scattered among various documents reviewed by the accountability office.

“A strategic plan should be a plan that takes you not only through the short term,” said Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the accountability office.

“If the New Way Forward only takes you through July 2008, then you don’t have any guidance for achieving an Iraq that can do everything on its own,” including dealing with the threat of terrorism and defending its own borders, Mr. Christoff said.

What of the president's Vietnamization plan in Iraq? The plan to hand off security to Iraqi troops that we're training to replace US troops?

[I]n an analysis based on a classified study of Iraqi Army battalions, the office concludes that just 10 percent of them are capable of operating independently in counterinsurgency operations and that even then they rely on American support.

The Pentagon has a much different definition of "capable" and "ready."

[T]he office essentially concludes that the Pentagon is claiming that units with far lower readiness grades are ready to lead than it did in the past.

It's time for a new plan: withdraw.

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  • Display: Sort:
    But, but, but. Just today David Brooks (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:30:24 AM EST
    opines the surge was successful:


    Heh! (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by The Maven on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:01:57 PM EST
    I was just quickly skimming through the comments here because I wanted to add a comment that would have been virtually word-for-word the same as yours.  Mine was going to be,
      But, But . . .
      David Brooks said today that the surge is working!

    Great minds, and all that.


    He was an early Obama fan too. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Salo on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:06:13 PM EST
    Of course that ruse worked and they now have us stuck with the scrupulously honest anti-war dude.  The media's about to turn on he antiwar guy. Brooks is not an aberation.

    This election will be sooooo close.


    I have to disagree (none / 0) (#27)
    by waldenpond on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 05:34:06 PM EST
    I am not voting for Obama (never was) but the media will not turn on him IMO.  I think the election will not be a landslide but will not be as close as some expect (again, IMO) McCain needs some media coverage, the summer will be slow.. it will depend on character at the end and criticism will not begin until after the convention.

    now (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:36:56 AM EST
    THATS how you quote Bobo.

    The plan was to offload the problem (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:19:57 AM EST
    onto the next President. Congress has let Bush do just that.

    well (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:22:18 AM EST
    if one can believe the right wing puditosphere he will not offload Iran.  if he thinks O will win he will bomb them into the stone age.

    If Iraq hadn't been such as diaster (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:19:07 PM EST
    We would have been in Iran and Syria three years ago. I believe Iraq was to be the stepping stone. At this point we never have the money, manpower or national will to undertake it now.

    But one caviat! If there's a way of screwing things up George will find it. One thing that has been consistant of his administration.


    you dont need that mych manpower (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:42:04 PM EST
    to drop bombs

    Considering the fact (none / 0) (#3)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:25:44 AM EST
    That a recent survey showed how pathetic the war coverage has been in the last year, I'm not the least bit shocked. There's been no effort to contradict them on their claims. Out of sight out of mind.

    which I think (none / 0) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:30:13 AM EST
    sort of flys in the face of the media darling thing about O.
    if they really loved him all that much it seems they would be talking about it.  a lot.
    and they have not been.  it will be interesting to see if that changes.

    Maybe not (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:36:52 AM EST
    Obama had taken a much softer stance on Iraq withdrawal since he has the nomination. He refuses to talk about time lines or anything. He'll have to see what conditions are, and consult with the military on the ground. I think I've been hearing that song now for the last 5 years.

    clearly (none / 0) (#11)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:38:34 AM EST
    but the surge is Johnnies baby.  if it aint workin they could make it a big problem if they wanted to.
    that would be IF they wanted to.

    Never will happen (none / 0) (#13)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:42:23 AM EST
    I just don't see the media turning on McCain, they created him and have years invested in the "maverick" brand. Plus they'd be afraid of critizing a war hero over any military issue. They even gave him a pass on the torture bill. Of any politician to stand up against torture, it should be McCain.

    sadly (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:46:01 AM EST
    I agree

    Except Bush has never had any intention (none / 0) (#24)
    by MissBrainerd on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:33:14 PM EST
    of leaving, hence the largest embassy in the history of man and 50-80, I don't remember anymore, permenent bases.

    So Obama will actually leave when it is safe for the people to do so. Bushco and McCainco will not.


    the media and press distracted the public (none / 0) (#7)
    by Josey on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:34:21 AM EST
    with campaign coverage, focusing on the candidate who was "against the war from the start" until he entered the Senate and began enabling it.
    Oops! that last part concealed by Obamedia.

    I tell you I'm shocked! (none / 0) (#6)
    by clio on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:32:58 AM EST
    That the Bush administration would, erm, stretch the truth about Iraq. Shocked!

    Now if the media report this less than glowing assessment in the same adulatory and breathless tones as they reported yesterday's "The surge has worked," hype (Just imagine! Deaths by violence have fallen to only 500 month!) I'll really be shocked.

    no different than Obama stretching the Truth (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Josey on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:35:45 AM EST
    about his "opposition" to the war after he voted to fund it for 2 years.

    If you guys can't see by now.... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:41:39 AM EST
    the D's and R's are both behind this bloody mess 100%...any talk otherwise is just that...talk.

    We'll have guys and gals dodging bullets in the desert in 2012 and beyond...guaranteed, no matter if it's Obama or McCain.  I'm still offering 5-1 payable as a donation to TL if anyone thinks otherwise...void if the apocolypse comes as scheduled of course:)


    it could be argued (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:45:39 AM EST
    dems are more responsible.  a dem congress has been funding this horror show for a while now.

    Oh (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:10:01 PM EST
    you are absolutely right on this one. We might as well get used to the fact that we're going to be there for at least 4 more years no matter who wins the presidency in Nov.

    What do you consider the desert? (none / 0) (#26)
    by CST on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 02:09:55 PM EST
    Iraq?  I'll take that bet with Obama.  Can't really speak for the other countries.  What is the climate in Afghanistan anyway?

    Iraq it is.... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 10:28:25 PM EST
    I'll give ya Afghanistan too, no sweat.

    If one or the other doesn't have a base after Obama's first term you win.  Say 10 bucks?

    I hope you win.


    You say there is an attempt to rehabilitate the (none / 0) (#16)
    by Salo on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:48:22 AM EST

    Say it ain't so. I'm shocked.

    I think most experts... (none / 0) (#18)
    by mike in dc on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:05:18 PM EST
    ...were pointing this out when the surge was first discussed--what happens after it ends?

    Since we didn't complete the security handover, and political reconciliation has not been achieved, there's a big mess remaining for the next president to have to deal with.

    The only question is how big a jump in civilian and troop casualties there will be, and when it will start.  Going into "Charlie Black" mode for a moment, it seems like an upsurge in violence in Iraq would probably benefit the Democrats politically, including Obama.  

    I think an attack on Iran before October would not be politically beneficial for the GOP, because of the spike in oil prices and the probable wave of violence in Iraq and elsewhere. An attack in October, a week or two before the election, could break either way politically.

    or a staged Black Flag on a US ship. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Salo on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:07:19 PM EST
    Michael Ware says, at what price? (none / 0) (#23)
    by MissBrainerd on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:30:55 PM EST
    Yes, violence may be down, but here is how that happens: ethnically cleanse a neighborhood, wall it off and install a militia, suni or shia (yes McCain, there is a difference) and bingo, no more violence.

    And when 2.5 million people are refugees, that helps too.

    everyone is walled off, now what?